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 Post subject: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:07 pm 
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Tomorrow, my mom and I are going shopping for the food bank and toy drive. They say they need more items for older kids/teens, but decline to give a list, saying they want variety.

Any ideas? We need to keep cost down (~$300; we are just pooling resources since we aren't doing Christmas or holiday at all) but not sure how to balance quality vs quantity. I was thinking of some stuff like jewelry making kits, maybe makeup sets. Not sure for boys or girls who aren't into makeup etc.

For the food bank, I was thinking some stuff like sugar cookie kits might be nice. I don't want to just get staples, but also some more fun or "luxury" items. I'm not worried about vegan, but I'll stick to vegetarian stuff. I want stuff that will not only help people who need it, but also be a bright spot in their day.

Ideas?

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:37 pm 
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How about some good board games? They're gender neutral and fun. Are books OK, or does it have to be toys? Art supplies - again, gender neutral and fun.

As for food, one of my loved ones lived in a shelter for a bit as kid, and after that, his mother got food for them from a pantry. He said so many people just dumped their really unwanted canned goods at the shelter, that anytime someone actually put some thought into purchasing something tasty and nutritious, it was a treat. If you want to go a little nice, how about a fancy peanut butter (like chocolate or maple) or other nut butter? Pasta sauce that's not gross? Grains other than rice? Hot chocolate mix? Nice teas (which I know don't have calories, which is what many people desperately need, but they could be a nice, inexpensive luxury item). Tetra pack non-dairy milks, for folks who don't use dairy for whatever reason?


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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:44 pm 
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The food banks here are especially looking for proteins like peanut butter and canned beans.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:49 pm 
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I bought a bunch of things for toys for tots. I try to buy things for a variety of ages so things I look for are watches, art kits, and I really like monster high dolls for some reason :) I'm not sure about teens though. Board games may also be a good option. something I also do is I look at Amazon toy section and see what they recommend for an age range.

And for food bank, I always buy peanut butter. I'd be a bit wary about getting things like cookie kits just because I know how hard it is for people to feed their families properly with limited budgets. I understand though trying to get things that someone would not normally buy.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 10:56 pm 
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Those are great ideas. Thanks!

I saw the monster high dolls on a list when I was googling. We will check out the board games. Normally we do the head start stuff and they give specific wish/need lists. We want to target the older kids who get overlooked. I'm trying to think of what my students like and all I can think of is expensive electronics.

With the cookie kits I was thinking they might be a fun family thing that wouldn't be in the budget. Maybe generic baking supplies would be more useful? Peanut butter, oatmeal, canned fruit, and beans are what we usually take, but I want some more special items for the holidays too. Or is it better to just get more quantity of the staples?

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:01 pm 
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I just saw that target is having a buy 2 get one free on board games this weekend.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:24 pm 
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I think for cookie kits or baking supplies, they might not be useful for people who don't have access or equipment like an oven, baking sheets, etc.
Compared to a can of baby corn someone pulled from the back of a cabinet, peanut butter or canned fruit is a nice treat.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:47 am 
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I remember as a late teen my mom used the food bank when we were homeless and bread was a big thing. If it is going to be given out right away loaves are bread are important. Snacks are good: Nature Valley Granola bars - super cheap and everyone likes them (the classic pb one is vegan!). Another cheap staple that is easy to prep and good for cold months - oatmeal! Nut butters, jelly, canned fruit - all good.

Monster High are buy 1 get one free I believe at Toys R Us this weekend. We picked a girl that wanted a Lallaloopsy doll - so we got her that. Nail polish kits by ELF are great and cheap for older kids. Some of the older kids had hygiene supplies on their wish list this year. Colored markers, coloring books and the like are good!

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:53 am 
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If you want to get them a treat that anyone can use, i've been consuming a ton of the Archer Farms peppermint hot chocolate from Target. Or some kind of jam. Mmm, jam. If you live near a TJ Maxx, they have all kinds of fancy looking foods at non-fancy prices.

Nice, generic gifts for older kids can be fleece gloves (better than just the knit ones), or neutral colored plain sweaters, a dark navy is pretty safe for anyone.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:00 am 
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Ooo, or cans of nut mixes. Full of delicious, fatty protein and something a little more special.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:27 am 
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If I were you I would give money directly to the food bank instead of food. Every person I've met who has worked or volunteered for one says this is the way to go. It allows them to buy the things they truly need and avoid the logistics of sorting donations, plus they are able to buy many times more food than what you could have gotten with the same amount of money.

Here's a lengthier explanation if you're interested:
http://www.slate.com/articles/business/ ... food_.html

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:17 am 
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They don't want money. This is just a small community organization.

That's a really good article though.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:25 am 
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One thing you could look at is Manna food lists, they post these whenever they put out boxes
http://www.mannafood.org/index.cfm?page=food-list

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:44 am 
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My kiddo's school had a canned food drive, and I donated a bunch of the Amy's soups. There are several that have lentils or other legumes and some veggies so they are a good meal. I avoided the just vegetable soup kinds so that it would be more substantial. And some flavors, like the curried lentil, are a little more special. I love the idea of mixed nuts. Special and nutritious.


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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:54 am 
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How about sports stuff? Decent soccer balls aren't that expensive. We always donate a few in different sizes each year.

Journals and cute pens? Cheap clutches/etc (Target has good deals!)

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 2:10 pm 
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I was also going to say something like a basketball or soccer ball.

The mixed nut idea made me think of those cocoa and cinnamon covered Blue Diamond almonds...maybe those hit the right spot between luxurious treat and something fairly nutritious compared to cookies?

I think as a teenager I got books and art supplies the most. And cds, but I guess nobody buys cds anymore?


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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 2:48 pm 
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For the food bank I was just reading something that suggested low sodium soups and vegetables and low sugar canned fruit. Bread, peanut butter, and canned beans are all good staples. I'm going to take some nice ground coffee to the food bank here. Good coffee is expensive and something not everyone can splurge on.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:42 pm 
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Hmm, this thread is making me think I should do a big Spring Winter Cleaning and I might actually unearth a decent amount of stuff I can donate this holiday season. Cause I definitely have no spare cash. Inspired!

Anyhow!

As far as toys for older kids, when I was an early-teen, I loved any of those DIY kits for various things. Candle-making and jewelry-making are the two I remember, but I feel like there were other things. Only thing is that some of those kits are really quite simple and aimed at a younger age group, so I'd definitely try and choose some that seem more 'advanced'.

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 Post subject: Re: Toy donations for older kids? Food bank ideas?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 5:32 pm 
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My friend who used to volunteer at a local food bank told me that spice mixes to put on food were very popular. He said that people liked being able to add those to the canned foods they got as plain canned beans and vegetables get boring.


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